Private sector healthcare providers are disappointed that there is no increase in allocation for the health sector but lauded the Union Budget for focusing on the National Digital Health Ecosystem and mental health. They also believe that the government’s focus on start ups and research and development would indirectly benefit the health sector.
Apollo Hospitals chairman Prathap C. Reddy felt the budget addressed “the pressing needs with announcements that will act as an emollient” for the economy and the people.
Extension of tax benefits for a year to start-ups would help those in the health tech space to invest in research and development, especially in AI-powered smart wearables and predictive healthcare that could strengthen the fight against non-communicable diseases. The proposed National Digital Health Ecosystem would enable universal healthcare accessibility, he added.
While the budget is a balanced effort to improve overall economic growth, it is disappointing that the outlay for healthcare remained the same as last year at ₹37,000 crore said G.S.K. Velu, chairman and managing director of Trivitron Healthcare and Neuberg Diagnostics. The mention of mental health counselling and care services in the budget is a testament to how far we have come as a country, he added.
Tele-counselling for mental health could play a catalytic role in normalising conversations around the issue besides ensuring people seek support for mental health related challenges, he said. Though no mention was made of the medical devices industry directly, he expected it to benefit from the government’s increased focus on healthcare. “Healthcare infrastructure needs a big boost in the coming years,” Dr. Velu said.
Shyam Bhat, chairperson of LiveLoveLaugh, a charitable trust founded by Deepika Padukone, said the proposals for mental health programmes would bolster the infrastructure. Establishment of new mental health institutions and a national tele-mental health programme would provide a robust platform for more research, better treatment and follow-up and an overall improvement in health outcomes, he said.